By Diane Burroughs
Fireworks displays are exciting if you’re expecting the sound blasts and flashing lights. But, imagine how frightening fireworks are for our pets. Especially, parrots and fireworks! The loud noise and flashing lights are terrifying for many pets, including parrots. Parrots have sensitive ears and excellent hearing. Combine excellent with unexpected and unfamiliar low-frequency, percussive blasts right at dark when your bird is tired and ready for bed and you can imagine just how frightened most parrots are on New Year’s Eve.
A very scared parrot may squawk or scream loudly or engage in fight or flight behaviors such as biting anyone who tries to comfort it or flapping around it’s cage potentially breaking feathers and injuring itself. When a bird flaps wildly in a regular bird cage, it’s wings, legs and feathers can get caught between the cage bars and break. The bird risks falling off of it’s perch and breaking bones in it’s wings and feet, too.
What can you do to help your parrot cope with New Year’s Eve fireworks?
- DESENSITIZE BIRDS WITH YOUTUBE VIDEO: Birds are very smart and learn from experience, just like children. If you have time, you can search on YouTube for “Fireworks Display” to expose your parrot to what fireworks look and sound like, potentially playing the video a little louder each time. While this simulation may not be as intense as a real fireworks display, it may desensitize your bird, to a degree. Use Clicker Training to re-teach your bird a familiar behavior while the recordings are playing. Your bird will pay attention to the positive rewards and may learn to “tune out” the distracting blasts and light flashes. Give the video or recording a name, “fireworks.” On New Year’s Eve, tell your parrot that it will hear “fireworks.”
- CONTAIN YOUR BIRD: Make sure that your bird is safely contained in a cage or bird carrier. Consider putting a thick blanket over the windows closest to the bird cage. If you anticipate that your bird will become so frightened that it flaps about its cage uncontrollably, consider placing it in a solid sided bird carrier like the Wingabago Bird Carrier that you can place in a bathroom or room without windows. The idea behind putting the bird carrier in a room without windows is that the light and the noise will be muffled. You can further muffle the sounds by placing a thick blanket over the bird carrier during the fireworks display.
PREPARE FOR POTENTIAL INJURY: Flailing birds may injure them selves by getting their wing or leg caught between cage bars. They can break a bone or a blood feather. Have a Bird First Aid Kit and Styptic Powder or corn starch out and ready for use. Brush up on how to remove a bleeding blood feather and stop bleeding.
- NATURAL, BIRD SAFE CALMING AGENTS: Highly anxious birds may benefit from receiving relaxation and calming supplements such as Avicalm or Herbal Relaxation and Calming Formula. Start administering the calming supplements on New Year’s Eve morning.